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The Burden  of Care: Addressing Challenges in Employment in the Nonprofit Sector

This report examines the perceptions of workers in the nonprofit sector and how these differ from workers in other sectors. Workers in the nonprofit sector have lower job satisfaction than workers in either the public or private sectors. Nonprofit sector jobs are also quite precarious, with high rates of temporary and part-time employment, including many workers who are involuntarily part-time. The findings are drawn from four waves of the Survey on Employment and Skills.

The study is based on the Survey on Employment and Skills, conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with the Future Skills Centre and the Diversity Institute at Toronto Metropolitan University.

The survey offers a unique opportunity to explore the employment situation of nonprofit sector workers, with a random, representative sample of 639 nonprofit workers amid a broader representation sample of 12,285 workers from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, collected across four survey waves between February 2020 and April 2022. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first representative data source that compares topics like job satisfaction and income sufficiency within the nonprofit sector compared to the broader workforce. In addition, it provides unique contributions to topics like job precarity, part-time employment, and skills and training in the nonprofit sector.

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Key findings

Collaborative skills are highly valued among nonprofit workers. When asked to identify the most important skill they need to improve in order to succeed in their careers, the number one area for nonprofit workers is collaborative skills.

The nonprofit sector is diverse, and workers are more likely to report having ever faced discrimination and unfair treatment at work. Workers in the nonprofit sector are more likely to be female, under the age of 35, racialized, Indigenous, and to have physical or mental disabilities than workers overall.

Low job satisfaction in the nonprofit sector is driven by some of the largest employee groups. Twenty-six percent of nonprofit sector workers report being unsatisfied with their job, higher than the 19% of private sector workers and the 17% of public workers who feel the same way.

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